The $43 million Tehachapi Valley Recreation & Park District bond issue failed for many reasons. It certainly was not because of any lack of appreciation for parks and recreational activities. However, it had everything to do with what many residents repeatedly questioned, criticized and cautioned prior to the vote.
The failure of Measure R was due to numerous negatives, including but not limited to the opinions below:
• TVRPD’s deeply flawed "assumptive" business plan on the proposed Rec Center and no business plan on the balance of the $43 million to be spent.
• A published "cost recovery" deficit of 20 percent on the proposed Rec Center signaled the potential need for future additional monies to be requested.
• TVRPD not listening to all the people residing in the TVRPD and TVRPD ignoring residents' feedback, ideas and suggestions for other realistic and viable options.
• TVRPD not heeding the advice and critiques from local financial analysts and recreation professionals who deemed the proposal everything from “unrealistic,” “unsustainable” and even “dangerous” for the community.
• TVRPD not seeking other funding mechanisms outside of the taxpayers' wallet (i.e. low-interest government loans, grants or private investment).
• Upsetting and frustrating the owners of property within the TVRPD who were unable to vote since they reside outside the TVRPD (i.e. Bear Valley Springs and Stallion Springs residents).
• The attempt to foist the entire overpriced $86.775 million price tag on to the taxpayers' backs for a lifetime (in addition to the more than $820,000 that taxpayers already provide TVRPD on an annual basis).
• Deep concern that an appointed (not an elected) TVRPD board swiftly approved this measure to move forward to the ballot, yet the people had no representation in this potential extreme taxation.
Let’s be honest here. This Measure R proposal was excessively overpriced, ill-planned and remarkably unreasonable. Recreation is very important, and we have it here. We have really nice parks, well-organized baseball, football and soccer programs, bike paths, pools, gyms, camping, hiking, biking, horse trails, swimming pools, dog parks and more! We truly hope that TVRPD opens new discussions with all its district residents and pursues a reasonable and realistic proposal in the very near future.
Larry Barrett is a Realtor, recreational enthusiast, community volunteer and former president of the Tehachapi Economic Development Council.